Security issues and the possibility of delays at the U.S.-Canadian
border crossing in Detroit have Canadian government officials on the defensive.
Motor City businessman Matty Moroun, owner of the Detroit International
Bridge Company that privately operates the Ambassador Bridge, is offering $30
million to the city of Detroit to acquire 25 acres between the bridge and the
publicly-owned Detroit-Windsor tunnel. Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is
reportedly considering the deal.
Moroun’s goal, according to news media in Detroit and its linked Canadian
border city, Windsor, Ontario, is to build a new “secured road” on the American
side of the Detroit River, consolidate toll traffic and replace separate
customs stations with one larger station.
The tunnel is currently operated by the cities of Detroit and Windsor.
The effect of a takeover deal would essentially privatize the tunnel
and boost Moroun’s business presence at a border crossing that sees tens of
thousands of vehicles per day.
Mark Butler, spokesman for Transport Canada, told Land Line he is concerned about the
proposal, although he hasn’t yet seen anything in writing from Moroun’s
“If that one facility was down, whether it be for weather or a car
accident or whatever the reason, in fact what you’re doing is stopping traffic
flow at what is the busiest border crossing between the U.S. and Canada,”
Butler said Wednesday, Nov. 30. “And that could hinder the economy.”
Butler has other concerns, including security and what he referred to
as a possible monopoly by Moroun’s company.
“That company would have control of two of the four access points
between Detroit and Windsor, creating a monopoly,” Butler said.
Travelers from Windsor hoping to get to downtown Detroit would also be
rerouted by nearly two miles each way, which could cause further delays and
traffic tie-ups, Butler said.
Dan Stamper, president of the Detroit International Bridge Company, was
not available for comment on Wednesday.
Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Anne A. McLellan is corresponding with
local officials in Windsor and Transport Canada to formulate an official
– By David Tanner, staff writer